Nightshade Family Myths
Contentious – Controversial – Conjectural
Nightshade Family Myths
While there seems to be so much conjectural and contentious controversy surrounding the subject of the Nightshade Family, also known as Solanaceae, few people are even aware or concerned about what they may or may not represent. Some people may even be a little superstitious about this particular edible family, which include potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.
And while there might be some two thousand odd plant species belonging to the “deadly nightshade family”, also known as Atropa Belladonna, the majority of this family are inedible.
So we now know a little about the nightshade family of vegetables that are edible and the deadly nightshade family of plant species that are inedible. But what do we really know or care? One thing that’s unquestionable – if we were to become lost in the jungle, we cannot simply go around eating any of the plant species we come across. Some are known to be extremely poisonous.
Anyway, I’m not here to discuss the inedible nightshade family as I don’t know that much about the various deadly plant species. But I do know a little more about the nightshade food we often eat. So what I’m going to talk to you about is the edible nightshade family and just why these vegetables or fruits are known to be part of this particular family group. And the reason for this is simply because we need to be aware of the food we consume and what it does to our bodies.
Nightshade Family Myths – Toxins
Now I’m sure you’ve all heard that toxins are substances created by plants and animals that are poisonous to humans and how we need to rid ourselves of these parasites in order to maintain optimum health.
Because a lot of people eat food indiscriminately mainly due to the fact that they have lost their real sense of taste. Yes! That’s right. All fast foods and processed foods do a lot of harm to our taste buds
The nightshade family of foods has potential toxins that are harmful to humans and while mother nature has a way of protecting themselves from insect damage, it’s the toxins found in the green part of vegetables that we need to be a little bit more concerned about.
While on the subject of nightshade family myths, I’d like to drop a bombshell if you can call it that. You see nightshade vegetables are in fact fruits. We might eat them as vegetables in salads or as a side dish and not so much as a snack or in a desert, but they are indeed all fruits. And one of the reasons for this is that fruit gets picked or cut from the plant which in turn is then left to continue its cycle. Whereas with vegetables, we eat the entire plant, leaving nothing behind.
There have been reports that toxins in all of these fruits listed here have the potential to cause headaches, convulsions, nausea and vomiting. Some reports even go so far as to say that people with arthritis should avoid eating food associated with the nightshade family due to its inflammatory properties. But all this said and done, you’d have to eat a huge quantity for this to have any serious consequences.
Nightshade Family Myths – Potatoes
There is much to be said about the humble potato, however, the nightshade family myth surrounding this vegetable goes deeper than the ground in which it grows. There are a few things to be aware of when purchasing or handling potatoes. The most important are to never ever eat green potatoes as they contain a toxin called solanine.
Potatoes often turn green when exposed to light – that’s why it’s a good idea to store them in a cool dark place. If you have any potatoes that have been stored for some time and you see that they are starting to sprout – please do not eat them – they are highly toxic. You should only use sprouted potatoes if you want to reuse them for planting purposes.
And don’t ever cut the growths out of potatoes as the collateral damage has been already dead and buried. Rather toss them away immediately. Just remember that your health is a lot more important than eating green or sprouted potatoes.
Okay! So now that this is out of the way, here are a few ways to be safe when consuming potatoes. Rather than eating just any old potato, choose sweet potatoes instead. Sweet potatoes do not belong to the nightshade family. They belong to the morning-glory family. Meaning – They grow during the day and not at night.
They are sweet, they are delicious and they are good for your skin. Not only that, if you’re diabetic, sweet potatoes are an excellent alternative. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. But if you love the common variety of potatoes that much, I would say that it’s safer to buy baby potatoes and leave the rest on the shelf.
Nightshade Family Myths – Peppers
When looking for peppers at your local supermarket or at the fresh fruit and veg stores, make sure you choose ones that are either red, yellow, orange or purple in colour. Never purchase green peppers as they have not yet ripened properly. And also because green peppers are actually immature and are toxic. Green peppers have a much more distinctive and strong flavour, unlike the red, yellow, orange and purple ones which are much sweeter and safer to eat.
Eating the odd green pepper now and again is no cause for concern, however, they are best not eaten at all. You’d be far better off eating the red, yellow, orange and purple ones. Do you ever wonder why green peppers are cheaper than their colourful cousins? That’s because they are picked long before they ripen, eliminating the growing cycle thus making them more plentiful and cheaper.
Nightshade Family Myths – Tomatoes
Well, we all know that green tomatoes have the tendency to taste bitter, so we choose to avoid them and for good reason too – they are toxic and contain glycoalkaloids, a family of chemical compounds derived from alkaloids which have a diverse physiological effect on humans – several of which are potentially dangerous.
Although red tomatoes are said to help eradicate certain types of cancer and also to help keep your skin looking good, in macrobiotic terms, they are considered taboo. One of the reasons for this is because all nightshade family fruits or vegetables actually grow at night, though some say that they grow in the shade. Get the picture – If you combined night with shade, you’ll get nightshade.
All other fruits and vegetables grow during the day when the sun is out. One of the nightshade family myths is that you should never eat fruits or vegetables that grow at night. And that’s because we grow at night and we should never eat fruits or vegetables that grow at the same time as our body does. At night we rest and during the day we use energy, so therefore we should only eat fruits and vegetables that grow during the day. How’s that for a true nightshade family myth.
Nightshade Family Myths – Eggplant
Eggplant, also known as Aubergine or Brinjal is another member of the nightshade family. Eggplant is the common name given to this edible fruit in North America and Australia, but in England, the name of this fruit is known as the Aubergine. No matter the name, this fruit should not be eaten while it is green because, as with green peppers, they are toxic.
Now, while I personally don’t care much for Aubergine, this fruit or vegetable is part of the staple diet in the Middle East where eggplant, tomatoes and peppers are consumed in abundance. French people on the southern coast make a stewed vegetable dish called Ratatouille, which also supports eggplant as well as a few other nightshade family ingredients.
While they are said to have great medicinal properties, people living the macrobiotic lifestyle, try to avoid these fruits and vegetables. Please note that macrobiotics is not a diet at all, but rather a healthy way of life. Because once you’re committed to it, it stays with you forever. Whereas most diets are considered to be more of a short-term thing.